Jeff Horn during his WBO world welterweight title fight with Manny Pacquiao at Suncorp Stadium.
Jeff Horn during his WBO world welterweight title fight with Manny Pacquiao at Suncorp Stadium. DAVE HUNT

Shortlist for prestigious 'The Don' Award revealed

JEFF Horn's victory against a legend, the State of Origin heroics of the man known as "JT" and Sally Pearson's return from injury to win at the world championships are all in contention for this year's classic edition of "The Don" Award.

Horn, Johnathan Thurston and Pearson are three of seven finalists for the Sport Australia Hall of Fame award that will be announced on October 12 at Crown Palladium.

"The Don", named in honour of Sir Donald Bradman, recognises the individual or team who has most inspired the nation through their performances.

These are the contenders on the shortlist that was announced on Monday night.

 

Johnathan Thurston of the Maroons kicks the match-winning conversion during State of Origin game two.
Johnathan Thurston of the Maroons kicks the match-winning conversion during State of Origin game two. DAN HIMBRECHTS

JOHNATHAN THURSTON

A Don finalist last year, "JT" missed the first State of Origin match before returning in game two, only to suffer a season-ending shoulder injury early on. Not only did he stay on the field, but late in the game he nailed a difficult conversion to keep the series alive.

JEFF HORN

Horn took the WBO welterweight world title in July in a unanimous points decision over Manny Pacquiao, in what many consider one of the best wins by an Australian boxer.

Horn's modest demeanour before the fight was matched by the dignified reaction to his win, which captured the attention of sports fans worldwide.

 

AFLW best-and-fairest winner Erin Phillips, of the Crows.
AFLW best-and-fairest winner Erin Phillips, of the Crows. TRACEY NEARMY

ERIN PHILLIPS

The former Olympic basketballer co-captained Adelaide to the inaugural AFL Women's premiership. She also won the league best-and-fairest, goal of the year, was best afield in the grand final and the AFL Players' Association MVP.

THE MATILDAS

The Australian women's soccer team demolished Brazil 6-1 at the Tournament of Nations in August.

The Matildas won their three games, including against host and world champion the US.

SALLY PEARSON

Many doubted if the Queenslander could return to the top of the tree after her injuries, but doubt Pearson at your peril. She won the 100m hurdles at the world championships in London in August.

EMILY SEEBOHM

Months after a disappointing 2016 Olympics, Seebohm was diagnosed with endometriosis, a condition where tissue similar to the lining of the womb grows in other parts of the abdomen, causing pain and inflammation. The 200m backstroker fought back to win Australia's only gold medal at the world swimming championships in Budapest in July.

 

Tyler Wright of Australia winning the 2017 Oi Rio Women's Proat Saquarema in Rio de Janeiro.
Tyler Wright of Australia winning the 2017 Oi Rio Women's Proat Saquarema in Rio de Janeiro. DAMIEN POULLENOT

TYLER WRIGHT

After her brother Owen suffered a serious head injury in 2015, surfer Wright took time off to become his primary carer. She returned to the tour and won the world championship last year.

ABOUT THE AWARD

Introduced in 1998, only two athletes have twice been awarded The Don - Olympic champions Pearson (2013, '15) and Steve Hooker (2008, '09).

Pearson knows what it's like to stand on stage in front of the who's who of Australian sport at the Sport Australia Hall of Fame awards.

"The Don Award is the pinnacle of Australian sports awards," she said.

 

Australia's Sally Pearson crosses the finish line to win the women's 100m hurdles at the world championships in London.
Australia's Sally Pearson crosses the finish line to win the women's 100m hurdles at the world championships in London. Tim Ireland

"To be named as one of the finalists is a huge honour. That being said, the night is also very special because all the superstars of Australian sports across many decades are gathered under one roof and I look up to them all."

Despite beating Pacquiao in Brisbane, Horn said to win The Don would be a career highlight.

"I am deeply honoured to be considered by the Sport Australia Hall of Fame as a finalist," he said.

"It would be a highlight of my career if I was fortunate enough to win and have my name listed alongside the previous winners.

"After my win over Manny Pacquiao, I was invited as a guest to the ESPY awards in Los Angeles, but attending the Sport Australia Hall of Fame night as a finalist is an even greater thrill."

News Corp Australia


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